A childhood bedroom needs to grow up along with your teen.

How to Make a Teenager's Room More Sophisticated and Grown Up

by Benna Crawford

One day you will find it is time to make sense out of the hodgepodge of teddy-bear-cute and baby-doll-pink decor that survived your teen's childhood. Consult your fashionista and your newly suave son before cracking open any paint cans -- but then transform the private lair into a fun and functional retreat that expresses emerging personality, not nostalgia.

Reclaimed Cool

For a teen who cares about the environment -- his and the planet's -- recycle and repurpose to create a grown-up bedroom. Color walls in low-VOC dove-gray paint as a neutral backdrop to everything else. Build a platform bed from wood construction pallets to support a mattress with a pillow-ticking-striped fitted cover on it for lounging. Remove the fitted cover to reveal plain blue bedding for sleeping. Stitch together enough outgrown, blown-out and recycled blue jeans to make a rectangular area rug, backed by a thick rug pad. Line up a row of old gym lockers for clothes and storage along one wall. Paint the lockers glossy medium-gray and invite the boys to graffiti the exteriors into a personal statement. Cork tiles stuck to the wall offer a green bulletin board. A giant world map or a wall mural of a snowboard shredder's paradise lets him plan his next eco project or big adventure.

Hooray for Hollywood

What could be more sophisticated than Audrey Hepburn captured in a black-and-white movie poster on your teen diva's wall? Give that girl an all-white room with a big, fluffy flokati rug by the bed, a Hollywood headboard of tufted white leather, bedding printed with black-and-white movie stills and a Mid-Century Modern artichoke pendant lamp. A clear acrylic molded desk holds a white princess phone, a potted white orchid and her laptop. A canvas director's chair with her name stenciled on the back serves as the desk chair. An oversized clapboard slate over the desk is really a chalkboard and white-painted cork rectangles on either side of it offer pin boards for tacking up scripts. Surround a full-length rectangular mirror on the back of the closet door with round white or clear fairy lights to evoke a backstage dressing room. A small clothes rack on wheels holds her costumes du jour and adds a splash of color to a sophisticated room.

Clear the Decks

Make space for hanging out in a small room by pushing a twin bed against one wall and treating it like a daybed. Add a narrow desk under the window or along the opposite wall, with a comfortable desk chair on wheels and docks for charging electronics. Fitted bed covers in denim or neutral linen blends disguise the bed by day -- add a couple of photo-fabric and pop culture throw pillows that underscore your teen's interests. Pale blue or pastel lime-green paint on the walls gets picked up in deeper blue or green stripes on an area rug. Display shelves high over the bed provide a changeable gallery for sports trophies, photographs, artwork or favorite books. Paint a stripe or two that matches the rug on Roman shades in the same color as the walls.

Polished Pink

Think pink for a growing-up girly girl but take a stylish approach to her teen bedroom decor. Blush-pink walls are barely there -- they seem to reflect the stronger pinks scattered throughout the room. Go for muted raspberry -- fuchsia with a touch of black to tone down the exuberance -- on a plain canvas window shade edged in aubergine velvet. Use the same material for a duvet cover and a tailored raspberry bed skirt with an aubergine border. An armless tufted velvet chair in stormy gray with a hint of purple allows extra seating when friends show up. Match the smoky violet color in chandelier shades or a pendant lamp. Cover the floor with a modern swirl of raspberry, violet, gray, cream and aubergine carpet and spend some time selecting contemporary art prints or posters that mirror her taste and growing sophistication.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Getty Images